Making The Grade in September 6th, 2016 Issue

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in


Q: What are learning models?  I was a primary grade teacher for 17 years and have been serving as principal in a K-4 school for the last eight years.  I recently attended an educational seminar with three of my teachers.  Two of the presenters discussed learning models both claiming that this is the new wave in teaching.  Although I was aware that my three teachers had altered their style of instruction, I didn’t realized that this style actually had a name.  After the conference, they directed me to this magazine.  I read your article “Hope Dictates Effort for Successful Students.”  My teachers call this the “Cooper Model.”  Personally, I’ve never heard of you.  I read your column and was impressed.  Can you tell me more?

A: In a recent survey, 79 percent of administrators and teachers believe learning models need to be investigated more.  During the 70s and 80s, the catch phrase was matching learning style to teaching style (i.e. tactical learner to hands on teacher, visual learner to instruction involving observation and auditory learner to frequent lectures).  This new approach is not that radical but changes focus on why children learn or more importantly why they don’t.  Simply, if a student perceives a path to success, they will put forth greater effort.  I urge all teachers regardless of grade or circumstance to challenge your students and don’t dumb down your lessons.  Students working together in groups and almost all assignments should receive a grade.  Now problems often occur during transitions from one lesson to the next, so all classes and definitely primary grades in particular need to have either a classroom library or access to books in a school library since the majority of group learning students spend their time in silent reading.  Many teachers tell me that that single element of instruction is most beneficial to overall class harmony.  As the principal, I suggest you allow your teachers currently utilizing learning models to offer assistance to fellow teachers who are interested in trying this style.  I hope we can stay in touch and welcome aboard to the future of teaching.

Q: I am the director of guidance for my urban school/district.  One of my many tasks is to interview perspective counselors for my district.  I always ask during this meeting that they describe the function of a guidance counselor.  One of these interviewees stated, “A counselor needs to reduce the pain of the past and offer the promise of the future.”  I asked her if this was an original thought.  She told me that she had read this in your column.  I now have all my guidance counselors read your column, and I’ve hung a sign in my tiny office that reads, “Guidance counselors reduce the pain of the past and offer the promise of the future.”  Mr. Cooper, can you offer any additional thoughts for my staff and myself?

A: Never forget that a good guidance counselor is the glue that keeps a school working well.  Do your job well, and students, teachers, parents and administrators will turn to you to alleviate most problems.  Counselors should be amongst the most pragmatic educators in all schools.  High school graduates often state that their guidance counselor was the most memorable adult during their entire learning experience.

If you would like to write to Gary for advice, please email

The Music Center Honors Rita Moreno with Excellence in the Performing Arts Award

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Honoring one of the nation’s most beloved performers, The Music Center recognized Rita Moreno with The Music Center’s Excellence in the Performing Arts Award earlier this year at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as part of the performing arts center’s inaugural Summer Soirée (Soirée).  

The Music Center’s Excellence in the Performing Arts Award salutes individuals who are pioneers in the creative and performing arts. Moreno was honored for her tireless efforts to help redefine the role of women in the arts. 

The Music Center’s President and CEO Rachel Moore explained that The Music Center’s Summer Soirée is a statement about the performing arts center’s commitment to excellence, Moore said. “Rita Moreno has set the bar for the finest artistic quality; time after time, she delivers performances that are unparalleled.  Her commitment to push boundaries and defy stereotypes has moved the field forward in tremendous ways and exemplifies everything this award represents.”

Actress Justina Machado who co-stars with Moreno in the upcoming “One Day at a Time” reboot currently in production along with actress and comedienne Fran Drescher who played Moreno’s daughter in “Happily Divorced” joined Moore in presenting the award to Moreno.
In accepting the award, Rita Moreno said, “That sweet elixir I call the ‘arts’ requires more than the creativity and passion of the artist.  There would be no Misty Copelands, no Stella Abreras, no Rita Morenos apart from those of you who encourage, support and applaud. 

Rita Moreno “If You Have a Dream, You Should Go After It”, by Mary Ann Cooper

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

As we embark on another Hispanic Heritage month and celebrate Latinos and Latinas, no list of outstanding Hispanic women would be complete without Rita Moreno. Rita Moreno is one of a select group of performers and the only Hispanic to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy. She was also inducted into the California Museum’s California Hall of Fame as one who embodies California’s innovative spirit. 

Over the years, Moreno won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story.” She is a two-time Emmy winner (for “The Muppet Show” in 1977 and “The Rockford Files” in 1978). She received a Grammy Award in 1972 for her performance on “The Electric Company” album for children based on the long-running television show of the same name. She received a Tony Award in 1975 for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in “The Ritz.” She received three ALMA Awards (for “Oz” in 1998, 1999 and 2002, and a Life-time Achievement Award in 1998). She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995. 

But it was a far different and indifferent world when Moreno arrived by boat from her native Humacao, Puerto Rico, at the tender age of five. The year was 1936, and young Moreno, then known as Rosita Dolores Alverío, arrived in New York to live with her mother who was toiling as a seamstress in one of the Big Apple’s infamous sweatshops of that era. Being raised in New York during the heart of the depression was especially difficult for Puerto Ricans – a situation that didn’t change much and was ironically chronicled in the musical “West Side Story,” the movie that made Moreno a star. 

Western Illinois University paid tribute to Rita Moreno earlier this year when she appeared there for "A Night with Rita Moreno."

Western Illinois University paid tribute to Rita Moreno earlier this year when she appeared there for "A Night with Rita Moreno."

Recalling her journey to star-dom, Moreno told Hispanic Outlook Publishing in an exclusive interview. “[Today’s Hispanic performers] have no clue about how tough it was for Latinos when I was starting out in this business. Jennifer Lopez says I inspired her before she was famous, but I’m sure she has no idea about how hard it was to break through. None of them do.” Moreno told Hispanic Outlook Publishing that Latinas were relegated to playing “Indian maidens and Latin spitfires.” Moreno explained that the racism that was so pervasive during the so-called golden age of Hollywood was based on ignorance as well as malevolence. She says that the assumption was that Hispanics couldn’t speak English that well or could “only speak with an accent.”  Those kinds of assumptions suppressed the Hispanic work force in films and theatre. 

Still, the grit and determina-tion Moreno showed – even as a child – drove her to dare to dream the American Dream. She started taking dancing lessons when she was six years old. And by the age of 13 she was appearing on Broadway in the play “Skydrift.” Little Rosita Alverio eventually landed in Hollywood and was transformed into Rita Moreno – an attempt by MGM to turn her into an all-American starlet, like Brooklyn born actress Rita Hayworth who was, ironically, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth. What followed was a film career that included appearances in more than 40 films, including “West Side Story,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The King and I,” “The Night of the Following Day,” “Marlowe,” “Popi,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “The Ritz,” “The Four Seasons,” “I Like It Like That,” “Angus,” “Carlo’s Wake,” “Blue Moon,” “Piñero,” “Casa de los Babys” and “April Showers.”

For her, staying power is the key to her success. She says it’s easy for some people to question some of the film choices she made to sustain herself and her career. Moreno says she made those choices because she was “determined to keep making films until something changed, and something wonderful happened.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulates Rita Moreno upon her induction into the California Museum Hall of fame.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulates Rita Moreno upon her induction into the California Museum Hall of fame.

Something wonderful did happen for Moreno when she landed the role of Anita in the film version of “West Side Story.” But even winning an Oscar for that role didn’t change the perception of Hollywood toward Latina actresses. 

“I got the Oscar, and I was invited to do more gang movies in lesser projects, which I turned down. And that was very sad for a while. I didn’t do a movie for about six years after I won the Oscar. I was offered some things, but they were all the terrible gang type movies, and I didn’t want to do that again.”

Despite also receiving numerous honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country, Moreno does not hesitate to explain that she does not have any formal education. She conceded that she attended the school of “hard knocks,” but that this was not a choice she made but more of a necessity. She now gives this advice to young Hispanics: don’t forgo an education as you pursue your career choice. 

Moreno insists, “The most important thing young people can do for themselves and their children or future children is to go to school and get a good education. They need to find something they love and pursue it. They should not give up following their dream. It’s not always possible to find something you truly love, but if you can, you must work to fulfill your dream.” 

Moreno has spent a lifetime pursuing her dreams. In addition to her film, stage, television and concert careers, she is a much sought after lecturer for various organizations and university campuses. She has served on the National Endowment for the Arts as a commissioner on the President’s White House Fellowships and as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. At a White House ceremony in 2004, Moreno was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The medal is the highest honor given to a civilian and ranks second only to The Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation’s highest award and is conferred to individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.

Despite her remarkable career, Moreno worries about the younger generation of Hispanics as they make their own life choices. She is concerned that these young people who have more opportunities for advancement and success than ever before sabotage their own efforts. “Too often young Hispanics ghettoize themselves. Part of it is peer pressure and part of it is allowing others to define them. They are too willing to accept the judgment of people who would marginalize or minimize them and their abilities.”  She also has a dire prediction for the future of American society – one that she hopes young people will pay attention to. “We are moving into a new world of dish-washers. There’s nothing wrong with being a dishwasher. Someone has to do that job, but if you have a dream, you should go after it. It’s called perseverance.”

And perseverance is something Rita Moreno knows a lot about. 

McDonald's® Recognizes 55 High School Graduates In Greater Philadelphia With College Scholarships

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

PHILADELPHIA -- Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RRMHC®) of the Philadelphia Region and McDonald's Owner/Operators of the Greater Philadelphia Region, Inc., are pleased to award 55 high school seniors with college scholarships for their academic achievements, leadership accomplishments and demon-strated commitment to giving back to their community. In total, $131,000 in scholarships has been awarded through the following programs:

  • RMHC®/African American Future Achievers program for African American high school seniors
  • RMHC®/Asian Students Increasing Achievement (ASIA) program for Asian and Pacific Islander high school seniors
  • RMHC®/Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources® (HACER®) program for Latino high school seniors
  • RMHC® Scholars program for all interested applicants, regardless of ethnicity

A panel of judges review the appli-cations and select each year's scholarship recipients.  Winners were selected based on academic achievement, community involvement, financial need and plans to attend a two- or four-year college during the next academic year. For a list of winners, visit 

Deb Group Kicks off Pre-registration for Happy Hands Dispenser Design Contest

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Deb Group announces pre-registration that is now open for its first Happy Hands Dispenser Design Contest online at info.debgroup. com/happyhands through October 2, 2016. 

The program was created to promote the importance of proper hand hygiene at K-12 schools in an artistic and creative manner by giving students the opportunity to design their own soap dispenser. The contest will award the winning design in each category – elementary, middle and high school – with a $200 gift card. Each winning students’ school will also receive a $500 donation. The winning designs will be custom printed for free on up to 500 manual Deb soap/sanitizer dispensers for use at the students’ school.

Designs will be evaluated for visual appeal, overall design, creativity and unique design elements. Representatives from Healthy Schools Campaign will help select 10 finalists in each category. Additional details about the Happy Hands contest will be announced on October 3. 

Dr. Seuss's the Cat in the Hat Tosses Red and White Stovepipe Hat in the Ring for 2016 Presidential Election to Teach Children the Importance of Voting

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

NEW YORK -- The Cat in the Hat has declared his candidacy for president of the United States and is letting children choose his campaign’s cause. Votes can be cast for the Cat to work with one of his supporters and their selected cause. Each cause is linked to a related organization, and together Random House Children's Books and Dr. Seuss Enterprises will make a $10,000 donation to the winning charity.  Children can vote for:

  • Reading and Education to support First Book
  • Ocean Conservation to support Oceana
  • The Environment to support Conservation International
  • Fighting Hunger to support Feed the Children
  • Kindness for All to support PACER Center

Children can vote by sending a ballot slip to Random House Children's Books. Ballots can be downloaded from the campaign headquarters,, or picked up in participating retailers or from participating educators. Voting will run through November 8, and the winning charity will be announced on December 1. 

Read Any Good Books Lately?

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Few authors have created rich and unique fantasy worlds quite like Roald Dahl.  Opening one of his classic storybooks can transport the reader into a place where dreams can be captured in bottles, bugs are loyal friends the size of humans and chocolate bars can hold “golden tickets” to happiness.  So in honor of his hundredth birthday, OutlooK-12 is proud to dedicate this month’s School Library to Dahl’s beloved works.  The information below is courtesy of who also provides lesson plans for many of Dahl’s titles.  Book covers are courtesy of the publisher Puffin Books.

ISBN-13: 978-0142410370
Lesson Plans:

Matilda Wormwood is a five-year-old genius. Unfortunately, her parents are too stupid to notice. Worse, her headmistress Miss Trunchbull is a bully who makes life difficult for Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey, and her friends. But what Miss Trunchbull doesn't know is that smart little Matilda has a trick or two up her sleeve.

Fun Facts: Earlier versions of the now beloved story had Matilda as a naughty child who uses her special abilities to fix a horse race, so her teacher would no longer have financial problems.  Dahl’s book has been adapted into a Broadway musical and a film in 1996 that was directed by Danny DeVito.

“James and the Giant Peach”
ISBN-13: 978-0142410363
Lesson Plans:

James Henry Trotter lives with his two horrid aunts, Spiker and Sponge. He hasn't got a single friend in the whole wide world. That is not until he meets the Old Green Grasshopper and the rest of the insects aboard a giant, magical peach!

Fun Facts: While writing “James and the Giant Peach,” Dahl was inspired by the cherry tree in the orchard at his home in the Buckinghamshire countryside, imagining what if the cherries kept growing larger.  Other fruits considered for the story included apples and pears.  The book was made into a combination live action/stop motion animated movie in 1996.

“The BFG” 
ISBN-13: 978-0142410387
Lesson Plans:

The Big Friendly Giant or BFG is unlike other giants. He doesn't like to eat people and instead captures dreams and keeps them in bottles for children to enjoy.  But one night he meets an orphan named Sophie, and the two unlikely friends team up to stop the other giants from eating humans once and for all. 

Fun Facts: Dahl was in the habit of writing down possible story ideas in exercise books.  A sentence from one of these books was the inspiration for “The BFG.”  This past summer the Walt Disney Company and Steven Spielberg released in theaters a live action/CGI movie version of “The BFG.”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” 
ISBN-13: 978-0142410349
Lesson Plans:

Three horrid farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean hate cunning Mr. Fox who outwits (or out foxes) them at every turn. what Mr. Fox and his friends don't realize is just how determined the farmers are to get them or that he very soon might not be able to get his furry tail out of trouble.  

Fun Fact: Dahl was inspired by a real tree known as “the witches tree” to create Mr. Fox.  He would tell his children that the Fox family lived in a hole beneath its trunk. The story inspired a stop-motion film featuring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep.

“Charlie & The Chocolate Factory”  
ISBN-13: 978-0142410318
Lesson Plans:

Nobody has seen Willy Wonka or inside his amazing chocolate factory for years. When he announces plans to invite the winners of five Golden Tickets hidden inside the wrappers of chocolate bars to visit his factory, the whole world is after those tickets!

Fun Facts: While in school, Dahl and his classmates were “taste testers” for a chocolate company. There were several earlier versions of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and at one point ten children were visiting the chocolate factory instead of five.  One of Dahl’s best known books, it was made into two movies starring Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp respectively as Willie Wonka.

“Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” 
ISBN-13: 978-0142410325
Lesson Plans:

Willy Wonka has asked Charlie and the rest of the Bucket family to live with him. Now, moments after “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” ended, the adventure continues as the Great Glass Elevator blasts Charlie into outer space.

Fun Fact: “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” was published eight years after “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Dahl considered other words for the glass contraption including “air machine” and “lift” (the British word for elevator and the word used to describe the device in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”). Eventually, he chose the American term “elevator” because he felt it was less “boring” than the word “lift.”

“Esio Trot” 
ISBN-13: 978-0142413821 Lesson Plans:

Shy Mr. Hoppy is in love with a widow named Mrs. Silver. Although they talked every morning from their apartments’ balconies, Mr. Hoppy wishes he could do something to win her over.  Then one day he gets an idea involving Mrs. Silver’s beloved pet tortoise, Alfie. 

Fun Fact: When “Esio Trot” was published, new laws had been enacted in England, so pet shops could no longer sell tortoises.  To avoid confusion, Dahl added the following introduction: “The things you are going to read about in this story all happened in the days when anyone could go out and buy a nice little tortoise from a pet shop.”

“The Enormous Crocodile”  
ISBN-13: 978-0142414538 Lesson Plans:

Crocodiles are such greedy creatures, and their favorite lunchtime snack happens to be a juicy child or two! The worst of the bunch, however, is the Enormous Crocodile who is sure he’s crafty enough to catch his innocent little prey. But for all his bragging, he isn't as smart as he thinks, and other animals don’t like his choice of menu.

Fun Fact: When Dahl was a young man, he lived in Africa and found that he had to avoid dangerous animals, including snakes, monkeys and, yes, crocodiles. Years later, he drew on these real-life experiences when he created the world of “The Enormous Crocodile.”

“The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me”
ISBN-13: 978-0142413845 Lesson Plans:

The Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company has just moved in to the old wooden house not far from where Billy lives. Billy would rather have a sweet shop, but when he meets the members of the Company, the Giraffe, the Pelican and the Monkey, he can't believe his eyes.

Fun Facts: “The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me” ends with the monkey singing, “We have tears in our eyes as we wave our good-byes, we so loved being with you, we three. So do please now and then come see us again, the Giraffe and the Pelly and me." These words are on stone slabs near Dahl’s grave.

“The Vicar of Nibbleswicke”  
ISBN-13: 978-0140368376 Lesson Plans:

Reverend Robert Lee develops a very unusual condition the local doctor calls Back-to-Front Dyslexia where he says certain words backwards.  As a result, he makes mistakes like saying his name is “Robert Eel” instead of “Robert Lee” and “Dog help me!” instead of “God help me!”

Fun Fact: Dahl wrote this story to aid The Dyslexia Institute because he felt strongly about the well being of others and about the importance of reading.  Today, these two drives in his life continue to inspire the work of his two charities: Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity and The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

Athough Gene Wilder has played a wide variety of characters over the course of his career, one of his best know and most beloved is his portrayal of Roald Dahl's iconic Willie Wonka.  Wilder passed away in late August at age 83.  All of us at OutlooK-12 extend our condolences to Wilder's family and friends.